feminist

Exploring Female Adventurers at London’s Women of the World Festival

Sunday 13 March, 11.30 a.m.  SOUTHBANK CENTRE, London   

wow logo 4As part of the Women of the World Festival 2016,  I am inviting women to ignite their own adventurous spirits through the journeys of  women explorers — past and present — who defied convention, pushed limits and travelled into the unknown.

In this era of shrinking comfort zones and glitzy role models, I’ll be celebrating women adventurers — women who take a walk on the wild side and explore the world. I’ll be paying tribute to those before us who left inhibition at home and journeyed through a man’s world on awe-inspiring voyages;  as well as today’s ‘adventuresses’ who challenge themselves on foot, bikes, skis; in boats, vans, planes…in the true spirit of adventure.

Today's female explorers (l to r) Felicity Aston, Rosie Stancer, Jacki Hill-Murphy, Lois Pryce, Ann Daniels and Arita Baaijens at the Women's Adventure Expo 2015.

Today’s female explorers (l to r) Felicity Aston, Rosie Stancer, Jacki Hill-Murphy, Lois Pryce, Ann Daniels and Arita Baaijens at the Women’s Adventure Expo 2015.

The stories of yesterday’s  women adventurers are often lost in time — let’s get them ‘back on the map’ as role models for women in the 21st century —  Women of the World like Lady Hester Stanhope, the first Western woman to cross the Syrian Desert; writer and explorer Mary Kingsley; and of course, crusading journalist Nellie Bly who beat Phileas Fogg’s fictional Around the World in 80 Days record 125 years ago.

Today’s women adventurers are not only rowing around Britain (Belinda Kirk), skiing alone across Antarctica  (Felicity Aston MBE), and reaching the North and South Poles (Ann Daniels), but also following  the footsteps of their predecessors like Isabella Bird, Mary Kingsley and Isabel Godin (Jacki Hill-Murphy), to name but a few.  Female explorers are true Women of the World.  Join me for a 15 minute WOW Bite on women explorers  Sunday 13 March at 11.30 a.m. at the Women of the World Festival.

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Around the World in 24 Hours

Nellie Bly's 151st birthday was celebrated with a Google doodle. Google animation by Katie Wu.

Nellie Bly’s 151st birthday was celebrated with a Google doodle that raced around the world.  Katie Wu created the animation for Google based on an original song composed and performed by Karen O.

Nellie Bly beat her own world record on 5 May 2015 when she ‘raced’ around the world in 24 hours. In 1890 Nellie set the record for circling the globe – 72 days by ship and train. 125 years later she sped through cyberspace, adorning the Google homepage as a Google Doodle across continents and countries including the USA, France, Africa, India and Australia.

It was Google’s way of paying tribute to the intrepid journalist/adventurer/humanitarian on the occasion of her 151st birthday. Watch it here.

Nellie was trending all day on twitter in the USA on 5 May, according to Brooke Kroeger, Nellie Bly biographer.  An estimated 3.5 billion internet users were exposed to the achievements of the famous reporter through the Google Doodle.

Liat Ben-Rafael, Google Doodle progam manager said: “Throughout her life and career, Nellie Bly spoke up for the underprivileged, the helpless and minorities, and defied society’s expectations for women. So when it came time to honour Nellie with a Doodle, we wanted to make it special.”

Nellie Bly 'spoke up for those told to shut up'. Animation by Katie Wu for Google.

Nellie Bly ‘spoke up for those told to shut up’. Animation by Katie Wu for Google.

Google’s celebrated doodle features a 1.21 min animation and an original song “Oh Nellie.” Written and performed by indie rocker Karen O, lead singer of the USA-based Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, the song formed the basis of the dynamic animation by Katie Wu. The lyrics encourage females ‘to stand up and show us what girls are good for.’

The doodle applauds Nellie’s iconic global voyage and honours her as a reporter who pioneered investigative journalism and burst into male-dominated newsrooms.

“Oh, Nellie, take us all around the world and break those rules ’cause you’re our girl,” the lyrics proclaim. “We wanna make something of ourselves too. Oh Nellie you showed us just what you would do.”

Says Google’s Liat Ben Rafael: “Back in the 19th century, Nellie fearlessly showed a generation of people “what girls are good for.” …We hope Nellie inspires women and girls everywhere to follow in her footsteps and show the world what they can do.”

Nellie’s 151st birthday google doodle is reported as showcasing two firsts. “Oh Nellie” was the first original song commissioned for a google doodle and Katy Wu’s ‘cartoon’ was the first to feature stop-motion animation.

All images used here are courtesy of Google.

Nellie travelled around the world through cyberspace thanks to Google. Here's her route.

Nellie travelled around the world through cyberspace thanks to Google. Here’s her route.

Nellie Bly Google Doodle storyboard by Katie Wu.

Nellie Bly Google Doodle storyboard by Katie Wu.

Nellie Bly: Top of the Lists

Nellie Bly is top of the lists.

Nellie Bly is top of the lists.

Nellie Bly is ‘back on the front page’ as a chart-topper in the historical, convention-busting, inspiring and feminist leagues.

Just in time for International Women’s Day 2015, The Guardian  and The Observer named Nellie as one of the 10 best feminists.  Here’s what the article’s author Helen Lewis said:

“No one but a man can do this,” Nellie Bly’s editor told her when she suggested travelling round the world in less than 80 days. She would need a protector, he said – and how would she ever carry all the luggage a lady would need on such a trip? Bly didn’t worry too much about the first quibble, and travelled light, crushing all her belongings into a single handbag. She made it home in 72 days. That wasn’t the first time the pioneering American journalist had attracted attention through her work – a year earlier, in 1887, she faked madness to go undercover in an asylum, exposing its poor conditions and abusive staff.” Here’s the entire list of 10 Best Feminists

Nellie Bly's biography by Brooke Kroeger

Nellie Bly’s biography by Brooke Kroeger

In 10 Books About Innovative Women You Should Know More About, Kathleen Culliton names Nellie Bly: Daredevil. Reporter.Feminist by Brooke Kroeger.  This is what she says on online site Bustle:

“Here’s what I love about stories of women who innovate: they’re two stories. First you’ve got the story of the brilliant idea, or the world-changing artifact, the traveling of the globe, the charting of the star, the rallying of the people. Then, you’ve got the story of how the hell a woman got people to listen to her in the first place. These are stories not just of human beings who were crazy-smart, but women who were as tough as nails… Journalist Nellie Bly faked insanity to get committed in an asylum. She reported on its atrocities as she experienced them. When that was done, she circled the globe.”

Brooke Kroeger wrote this book because she could not find a single reliable source that accurately captured the story of Nellie Bly. Instead of a credible biography, she found brief encyclopedia entries and children’s books. And she was baffled because Bly not only had a major impact on journalism, but a fascinating life. In an age that relegated women reporters to the ‘Homes and Gardens’ section of the newspaper, Bly faked her own insanity to gain admission into and report on one of the nation’s most notorious insane asylums and effectively invented stunt journalism.”
Here’s the full list of 10 Books about Inspirational Women You Should Know More About.

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly

Online worldwide news site Buzzfeed named Nellie Bly as one of  the Top 12 Historical Women Who Didn’t Give a ‘you know what’.

“Nellie Bly was a daring and influential investigative journalist who wrote groundbreaking stories about political corruption and poverty. She once faked madness in order to report undercover from an abusive mental institution in New York City, which led to outcry and reform. Her jealous peers referred to her investigations as “stunt reporting”, but Nellie, of course, didn’t give a  x*!x*!  about those whiny little x*!x*!     Oh, and she once travelled around the world in a record-breaking 72 days, just ‘cause.  Here’s the post.

She was named among the top 7 of inspiring ‘convention-breaking‘ women by Mother Nature Network who said:

Nellie exposed the abuses taking place inside the Women's Asylum.

Nellie exposed the abuses taking place inside the Women’s Asylum.

Nellie Bly was an investigative journalist who went undercover in a mental hospital to secure a job at a newspaper when she moved to New York City. She wrote about her experience spending 10 days in a mental ward: “What, excepting torture, would produce insanity quicker than this treatment? I would like the expert physicians who are condemning me for my action, which has proven their ability, to take a perfectly sane and healthy woman, shut her up and make her sit from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on straight-back benches, do not allow her to talk or move during these hours, give her no reading and let her know nothing of the world or its doings, give her bad food and harsh treatment, and see how long it will take to make her insane. Two months would make her a mental and physical wreck.”

Following that blockbuster story, Bly circled the world in 72 days in imitation of Jules Verne’s book, married a millionaire, ran his steel manufacturing company after he died, and developed a number of patents for her business. She covered the suffragist movement in an article titled “Suffragists Are Men’s Superiors” in 1913 but correctly predicted women wouldn’t get the vote until 1920.
See full post here.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette where Nellie was once a reporter invites us to ‘Learn from the Past’ via Nellie Bly.
“In 1887, she moved to New York City and landed a job at the New York World. For one of her first assignments, she went undercover as a patient at the Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum. She spent 10 days experiencing the asylum’s deplorable living conditions, which included rotten food and physical abuse from the staff. After the New York World demanded her release, Bly’s firsthand accounts of the horrors of the asylum, “Ten Days in a Mad House,” became a book that prompted a grand jury investigation.Two years later, she decided to travel the world faster than novelist Jules Verne’s character Phileas Fogg in “Around the World in Eighty Days.” She boarded a ship from New York Nov. 14, 1889, and returned Jan. 25, 1890 — 72 days, six hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds after her departure. Read the full article here.